Section: Region

Closed minds, broken politics

Barbara Leonard
meme: waiting for Sue Gray

Last week I wrote to my local MP Robert Syms. I explained the great sadness and upset I felt had been caused by the revelations of casual disregard of the Covid rules by those responsible for imposing them. While my family had been prevented from seeing dying relatives and attending funerals, they partied on. Back […]

‘Kill the Bill’: action in Exeter

Anna Andrews

“This Bill threatens what we do peacefully because we believe in something.” Seasoned activists, people from a wide range of pressure groups, and individuals from all walks of life came together in Exeter on 15 January to show their resistance to the Bill with Priti Patel’s fingerprints all over it: the Police, Crime, Sentencing and […]

Raise your voice!

Mick Fletcher

At West Country Voices we like to tell the stories that others in the media don’t. Often, these stories concern issues that the powerful and well-connected are keen to suppress; they involve holding policymakers to account or exposing abuse of office. Recent stories have focused on the threats to our democratic rights and freedoms. They […]

Why Prince William will get nothing in my will

Tom Scott
HRH Prince William

Prince William’s attempt to present the Duchy of Cornwall as a benevolent institution fails to impress Tom Scott, who brushed up against this powerful feudal relic after his neighbours died without leaving a will. Last week, Prince William let it be known through “royal sources” quoted in the Daily Telegraph that he is looking into […]

The property price boom that helps the few, not the many

Mick Fletcher
Stags estate agent sign

In 2021 the average price of houses in Taunton increased by 21 per cent: the highest rate of increase in the country. It is a sign of how utterly dysfunctional our housing market has become that this was announced as good news. According to the Daily Mail, for example, “while it was good news for […]

“First homes, not second homes!” MP Luke Pollard is on a mission

Anthea Simmons

Housing. It’s in crisis across the UK but nowhere is that crisis more acute than in the south-west, battered by the perfect storm of beauty, inequality and wealth. It’s not as if we don’t know what damage second, holiday and empty homes do to a community. There’s enough research out there, let alone the daily […]

Ecological confidence trick

Nick Dobbs
Horses standing in field at Highmoor Farm

At the heart of Bournemouth and Poole lies Talbot Heath Nature Reserve – an extraordinary 37-hectare fragment of the once ‘Great Heath’ that stretched uninterrupted from the Purbeck hills to the New Forest. Since 1800, 80 per cent of heathland has been lost worldwide, and today the UK is the custodian of 20 per cent […]

Starting a tree nursery

Buffy Fletcher
new tree nursery

It started with a throwaway remark. At an early, virtual meeting of the Westbury Sub Mendip parish tree group someone wondered aloud about whether it might be possible to start a tree nursery. One member left the Zoom call and returned after five minutes. He had consulted his wife and they were happy for us […]

Something lovely for a change! Letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief
woman standing in St Just square with a Black lives Matter placard

Yes, it was a few months ago, but it brought some sunshine into the Editor-in-Chief’s day! Dear West Country Voices, I don’t know whether this is the sort of thing you’d be interested in, but having visited your beautiful part of the country in the summer and in light of all the debate prompted by […]

The dutiful and the despotic: a tale of two generations

Dr Pam Jarvis

This would be a powerful piece on any day of publication but coinciding as it does with the anniversary of that law-breaking party in Downing Street and the very day that author Dr Pam Jarvis’s brother died it has additional heft and poignancy. My mother, who died in February, was born into a generation raised […]

Devon’s housing crisis: the champions of change

Anthea Simmons

How many of us have experienced, or can begin to really comprehend, what it is to be without a home? How many of us have known the unsettling insecurity of living in rented accommodation at the whim of a landlord who might at any moment, once the fixed term contract is up, issue a Section […]

Egyptian artefacts and enchanted arbours at Kingston Lacy

Valery Collins
Illuminated trees at Kingston Lacy

During the medieval period, the grand estate known as Kingston Lacy was part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne in Dorset. The manor house stood to the north of the present palazzo, close to a deer park. Supporters of the Crown were allowed to let the estate. After it was sold at […]

Social feed 4: pre-christmas porkies!

Babe

A media tarts special double bill! “It’s media, darling!” would be a good phrase to describe Mangnall’s latest servings of pig swill to constituents. And what a marvellous couple of weeks it has been: Tory lies have flowed like sewage down the Dart, and Mangnall has worked tirelessly, attempting to transform his profile from an […]

Small victories matter

Mick Fletcher

One of our aims at West Country Voices is to stand up for the rights of citizens against the abuse of power, whether by government or private interests. In recent weeks we have sought to spell out the threats to democracy enshrined in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, highlighted the demonisation of migrants […]

Will our MPs stand up for the lifeboats?

Mick Fletcher

If any organisation embodies the best of British values it is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).   It is funded by donations and almost entirely staffed by volunteers.  It is a charity independent of government, wholly dedicated to saving lives at sea.  Its volunteers are ready to risk their own life to help others, 24 […]

Social feed 3: the smell of bacon frying…

Babe

A regular satirical commentary on the pig swill served to constituents via an MP’s social media feed ‘Slurping at the swill for everyone in Totnes & South Devon’ – Babe PeppaPiggate may have overshadowed the Paterson and sewage affairs, but Babe isn’t letting Mangnall off the hook… This social feed retrospective tastes disconcertingly familiar. It’s […]

Greenham Common Women – 40 years on

Conor Niall O'Luby
Badge worn by Grennham Common Women's protest

A train trip back in time “Going anywhere nice today?” Taking the drink from the young woman at the station kiosk, I replied: “We’re off to Newbury, to Greenham Common. It’s the 40-year anniversary of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. My mum was one of the Greenham Women. We’re going to see the events […]

A dangerous dowry for the new Somerset unitary authority

Mick Fletcher

The prospects for the new unitary authority recently imposed on Somerset are not good. Like local government everywhere, the county is having to cope with a dysfunctional funding system and a decade of austerity. It will soon have to cope with the extra costs of reorganisation, estimated at over £16m. On top of this, however, […]